Science Reveals the Unknown Side Effects of Love

Everyone who has experienced love knows that it may elicit a wide range of feelings. Being in love may range from feeling absolutely thrilled one minute to being sorrowful, frightened, perhaps furious, or even self-doubting the next. A love relationship may be an intense emotional roller coaster, and it’s a highly personal, one-of-a-kind experience for everyone involved.

Because love, like many other life experiences, has its ups and downs of emotions, you may be wondering what is truly going on within your body once you’ve been struck by Cupid’s arrow. Well, research has revealed the hidden side affects of falling in love.

Love might raise your body’s stress hormone levels. Cortisol

Although the term “lovesick” has never been proven to be a medical diagnosis—PsychCentral refers to it as a “biological response,” rather than a clinically recognized mental health condition—love can increase your stress hormone, cortisol, which can actually suppress your immune system, according to the Harvard Gazette.

“Falling in love causes our body to release a flood of feel-good chemicals that trigger specific physical reactions,” says Pat Mumby, PhD, co-director of the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic and Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

You can experience feelings of ecstasy, a racing heart, sweaty palms, and even flushed cheeks

This whole love potion is what makes you feel as if Cupid’s arrow struck you straight in the heart, causing it to race. You could develop sweaty hands and cheeks as red as Rudolph’s nose. What exactly is going on here? According to Loyola University Health System, when the love bug bites, your body’s levels of norepinephrine, adrenaline, and dopamine rise. All of those amazing explosions, emotions, and sensations of euphoria are caused by the magic of dopamine. Simultaneously, your norepinephrine and adrenaline levels lead your heart to beat, rendering you unable to concentrate on anything else—well, you get the idea.

Levels of serotonin decrease, then slowly get back to normal, and oxytocin kicks in

Not only that, but When you get the love bug, your serotonin levels drop, so add some obsession to the mix. Richard Schwartz, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a consultant to McLean and Massachusetts General hospitals, investigated all of the emotions felt in relationships, including love, hatred, and apathy. “It’s pretty intricate, and we just know a bit about it,” Schwartz said of love (via the Harvard Gazette).

“What keeps love alive is the ability to accept that you don’t actually know your mate fully while being intrigued and exploring,” Schwartz said. He saw that our serotonin levels gradually return to normal, and oxytocin kicks in, resulting in a more serene, evolved sort of love. The oxytocin hormone is responsible for relationship building. It can also help your immune system work better.

You might even get better sleep

Love is responsible for numerous changes in our health, both good and harmful. A prior study discovered that couples often receive a better night’s sleep than solitary people. When things between the lovebirds aren’t going so well, there’s a greater risk of poor sleep quality. In reality, a bad marriage can cause sadness and distress, both of which can alter your neurochemistry and neurobiology.

It’s important for couples to find ways to strengthen their bond for the long run

Everyday living may put strain on any love relationship. Jacqueline Olds, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, shared her thoughts on the matter. Olds stated, “There’s far too much emphasis… on what a love partner should be. They should be your greatest friend, your lover, your closest family, your business colleague, your coparent, and your sports partner… Of course, not everyone is capable of living up to it.”

Both Schwartz and Olds told the Harvard Gazette that it’s critical for couples to discover strategies to enhance their relationship over time. Each individual should have their own hobbies and spend time discussing and learning about them with their spouse. Relationships grow, according to Schwartz, when there are shared interests and ambitions. “You’re not going to get to 40 years by staring into one other’s eyes,” Schwartz pointed out.